TRAVERSE CITY — Gladys Muñoz learned about service to others as a child when she helped at a free clinic in Puerto Rico where her parents volunteered their time on weekends.
Muñoz, a teacher by training, went from stocking shelves in a clinic to helping migrant workers with a variety of needs and handling medical translations for Spanish-speaking people. The Traverse City Human Rights Commission on Monday will honor Muñoz for her lifetime of service when they present her the Sara Hardy Humanitarian Award.
“She does everything she can to make life better for those who need it,” said Theresa Gardner, commission chairwoman. “The agencies she works with can’t speak highly enough about her; she goes over and above and does a lot of work on her own time.”
Joe Bullis and Valerie Kirn-Duensing of the Women’s Resource Center nominated Muñoz.
“Gladys is constantly in a state of service,” they wrote in their nomination letter. “From the moment she wakes up, she is either helping someone or she is on the phone helping someone who is in need.”
Muñoz assists the women’s center when Spanish-speaking women are victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
“The victims ... are vulnerable when they get here, and for people who don’t speak English, it can make it even more terrifying,” Bullis said. “She is just very good at working with our advocates who are guiding people through the process and allowing us to provide support that is culturally appropriate.”
Muñoz moved to Traverse City 26 years ago at the invitation of her sister and started teaching with the Michigan Migrant Project. She later taught and became principal of Holy Rosary School, worked as a pastoral associate, and helped the Diocese of Gaylord organize its Spanish ministry.